Employer branding: privilege of large companies or mandatory tool for small startups?

Brand new entrepreneurs have a lot on their plate: courting investors, planning marketing initiatives and, of course, putting together a winning product.
What’s more, the drive to make money is instantaneous upon founding a new business. Maybe you’re so excited about your concept that you just can’t wait to see profits rolling in, or you might be under financial pressure to start earning cash fast. Whatever the reasons may be, a large percentage of new business owners focus their attention on becoming solvent and profitable as quickly and directly as possible.
In this race to financial success, employer branding (the process of purposefully and strategically making your business a desirable place to work that attracts the best talent on the market), seems of little importance. At first glance it might seem that whatever contribution employer branding might make to your immediate survival and success, it’s not enough to warrant the expenditure of resources, better spent elsewhere. Large, well-established companies may enjoy such luxuries, not startups. But is this true?

What employer branding can achieve

First, let’s explore what can be accomplished with employer branding, whether your company is small and large. Even startup entrepreneurs would mostly agree that given the time and resources, employer branding is at the very least a helpful tool. That’s because good employer branding results in:

    • Highly motivated and skilled employees want to work for you because they know you have an amazing product and an amazing team that’s doing meaningful work
    • Denying your competitors of the best talent on the job market
    • Reducing some of your regular recruiting costs because candidates start actively seeking opportunities with your organization
    • Lower turnover rates
    • A presence and appearance on social media that makes it more likely that candidates will have heard of you already.

In other words, employer branding takes some of the burden of finding talent off of your shoulders. Ideally, you want great talent to show up on your doorstep, and you want to compete for the best minds in your industry. These are advantages that every company wants to enjoy – and the sooner, the better.

The needs of a startup:

Sure, there are some basic tasks that startups just need to get done without too much thought, like a one-time voice recording for a promotional video. In fact, there are lots of small pieces like that, which need to come together early on. They don’t require special skills or even belief in what you do. In these cases, even Fiverr will often do the trick.

But to make your vision come to fruition, you also need to fill important roles early on with skilled individuals who understand and believe in what you’re striving for. In the earliest of stages, these employees need to find personal synergy with you. As your business progresses, they need to find synergy with overall company culture and the values you want to promote. Employer branding is key to finding and competing for this kind of talent.
More than that, successfully recruiting this kind of team dramatically increases your chances of reaching that desired stage of profitability when you can explore further growth while avoiding the hassle of high turnover (which is nothing but an annoyance and distraction for a small startup).

The bad news is that none of this is achieved in an instant. Employer branding takes time before you start seeing results. That means if you want to take advantage of its benefits early on, you need to get started even earlier. Ideally, you should start planning out your employer branding strategy and networking before you even begin fundraising. That way, with your first influx of investments and the resulting burst of expansion, you’ll already have a solid foundation built for hiring the best talent in your industry.

What we’ve learned:

Perhaps it’s going a bit too far to say that employer branding is an absolute necessity for startups, but it’s an even greater exaggeration to claim that employer branding is a luxury that can only be enjoyed by large, well-established organizations. Employer branding is nothing less than one of the best tools at your disposal to make sure your company is built on solid foundations – and every company should want to build those foundations as early as possible.


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